HAROLD SPECTOR / 1920-2005

Real estate developer
realized grand dreams

Harold Solomon Spector, a real estate developer whose projects included the Radisson Waikiki Kuhio Prince hotel, Moanalua Hillside housing development and the Chinese Cultural Center, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at the Queen's Medical Center. He was 85.


Harold Spector: He was a founder of Temple Emanu-El, which he helped build

Spector was also a founder of Temple Emanu-El, which he helped build.

Born in Boston in 1920, Spector earned his bachelor's and law degrees from Northeastern University. He came to Hawaii with the Army and served in World War II. He retired with the rank of captain.

After the military, Spector went to work as a developer, building a permanent legacy in his adopted home. His other projects include the Damien Museum in Waikiki and the Kukui Gardens housing development. He also helped build Star of the Sea Catholic Church.

"He had a great vision; he had a great vision for the people of Hawaii," said Charles Strickland, who worked with Spector.

Spector was a dreamer with a knack for turning his dreams into reality, he said.

"He didn't take no for an answer," said Strickland. "If he had an idea for a project, he would see it through and get it done."

To be sure, like all ambitious developers, Spector had his share of disappointments. A grand plan to redevelop the old U.S. Post Office on Merchant Street across from Iolani Palace into a $57 million upscale shopping mall, for example, never came to fruition.

But Spector never stopped dreaming and developing. Indeed, upon his death he was working with Strickland and their colleague John Joshua on a condominium project at Maili Beach on Oahu.

Joshua described Spector as a mentor who maintained enormous dignity even when his projects met obstacles. Spector also cared for the people of Hawaii, he said, and strove to incorporate a sense of place into his projects, planning landscapes rich with fruit trees and tropical plants.

"He was born in the wrong state; he should have been born here," said Spector's daughter, Pamela Spector. "He was more Hawaiian than many of the Hawaiians around here."

Fond of the water, Spector was an avid swimmer and snorkeler in his younger years, she said.

"He'd snorkel a mile, then walk back a mile down the beach," Pamela said.

Spector also was a pillar of Hawaii's Jewish community, "a walking history book of Jewish life in Hawaii," said Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky of Chabad of Hawaii. "He was an institution in the Jewish community here," he said.

Besides daughter Pamela of Phoenix, Spector is survived by wife Elizabeth; four grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one great-great- granddaughter; brother Dr. Samuel Spencer of Bridgeport, Conn.; and sister Joyce Mekelberg of Boca Raton, Fla., and Cape Cod, Mass.

A committal service will be held at 1 p.m. today at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery. Williams Funeral Services is handling arrangements.

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